Information and objectives at one school *
In accordance with the Equality Act specific duties, a secondary school in Greater London compiled and published a 27-page document in May 2012 about the ways in which it has due regard for equalities, and about the measurable objectives which, in the light of rigorous analysis, it has decided on. The document starts with factual information about the school population. Fifty-seven per cent of the students are of Asian heritage and 30 per cent are of African or African-Caribbean heritage. Thirty-one per cent are from low-income backgrounds, as measured by eligibility for free school meals. Thirty-four per cent have been identified as having special educational needs. Fifty-four per cent are male, and 46 per cent are female. In relation to disability, ethnicity and gender the document shows compliance with the duty of due regard by asking five questions and answering each at length:
- What are we doing to eliminate discrimination?
- What are we doing to advance equality of opportunity?
- What are we doing to foster good relations?
- What has been the impact of our policies?
- What do we plan to do next?
In the light of this rigorous, open-minded and evidence-based discussion, which involved not only all staff but also key stakeholders from outside the school, the school selected five objectives requiring special attention, as follows:
- to achieve a 40 per cent reduction in the number of fixed termed exclusions of Somali and African-Caribbean pupils over 2012-13 and 2013-14;
- to demonstrate, through a survey of Somali and African Caribbean pupils and parents at the end of 2012-13, at least 75 per cent satisfaction with the way in which their aspirations and learning needs are met;
- to double the percentage of Yr 8 girls expressing interest in pursuing a career in physics, technology or engineering by the end of 2012-13;
- to achieve an increase of 10 per cent in Yr 9 girls choosing ICT as a GCSE option for 2013-14;
- to achieve a 40 per cent reduction in prejudice-related behaviour, in relation to homophobia, racism and religious stereotyping over 2012-13 and 2013-14.
It as yet too early to report on the extent to which the objectives have been achieved. It is already evident, however, that the processes of staff consultation leading to the production of the document, stressing the importance of reducing exclusions within the context of increasing inclusion, have had a very beneficial impact.
* Source: Equality Duties and Equality Challenges in Education - Reviewing the public sector equality duty, summer 2013, Insted Consultancy, London